RELEASE: Joint Statement on Iowa’s Record Number of Covid-19 Hospitalizations

From the Healthcare Workers of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

“Iowa marked a grim milestone yesterday. For the first time since the coronavirus hit our state, more than 500 patients were in Iowa hospitals being treated for Covid-19. Our members at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) have seen firsthand how devastating this illness can be. In fact, more than 600 UIHC employees have themselves been infected with Covid-19. We and all workers on the frontlines of the fight against Covid need Iowa’s leaders to step up and provide the personal protective equipment and the resources necessary for us to care for Iowa.

“Unfortunately, that leadership is lacking right now. This week we learned that Gov. Kim Reynolds tried to funnel $20 million of coronavirus relief funds into upgrading a state computer system. We need those funds for patients, not computers. Together, we’re calling on Gov. Reynolds and every elected official in Iowa to promise that they will make the lives of Iowa’s patients their Number One priority.”

A Joint Statement from Richard Frauenholz, President of AFSCME Local 12 & Cathy Glasson, RN, President of SEIU Local 199, the unions of UIHC healthcare workers

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Nursing assistants, service workers and other staff at UIHC are members of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). RNs and healthcare professionals at UIHC are united in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Members of the two unions are currently voting in state-mandated elections — which end on Tuesday, Oct. 27 — to keep their union voice for quality patient care. The UIHC caregivers and staff are public employees. They and thousands of other Iowa public service workers will be voting in these recertification elections, which were established in 2017 by an anti-worker state law.

The law forces public service workers to meet a very high threshold to keep their unions. Winning a majority of votes in an election isn’t enough to ensure victory. A majority of ALL employees at a workplace must vote yes to keep their union. Workers who don’t vote are effectively counted as no votes. Despite the unfair election rules, Iowa’s public employees have voted overwhelmingly to recertify their unions in the elections held since 2017.

In Iowa City, thousands more staff and graduate students at the University of Iowa will be voting in this round of recertification elections. Also voting will be the municipal workers of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, the public employees of Linn and Johnson Counties, state workers in the departments of transportation, corrections and human services, as well as school employees in area districts.

For more information, contact Jim McNeill at jim.mcneill@seiu199.org, 202-213-1614

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